Anyone and everyone who has ever watched Spirited Away, have felt its magic and the impact Hayao Miyazaki left on us. For almost two decades now, fans have been waiting to feel the magic again. We demand to see Haku and Chihiro keep their promise of meeting again. However, is Studio Ghibli planning to produce Spirited Away Season 2? What will be the plot of the sequel? Here’s everything you need to know.
Japanese masterpiece Spirited Away is a 2001 animated fantasy film written by the great Hayao Miyazaki. The Studio Ghibli production left an impression on each and every viewer, including Boomers and Gen Z both. Upon its debut in July 2001, the movie received universal acclaim and became one the best films of all time. Even today, the film ranks in the top 30 highest rated movies on IMDb and most major rating platforms. The US$19 million budget project ended up grossing over $383 million at the worldwide box office. In fact, for 19 years, Spirited Away kept its record of being the highest-grossing Japanese film ever and is currently in the second position after being surpassed by 2020’s Demon Slayer: Mugen Train movie.
Despite its immense popularity and critical acclaim, the sensational film never got the chance to return for a sequel. For years, fans have been requesting the studio to renew a Spirited Away sequel. Social media has fired up the demands as fans now have a platform to pitch their requests. Well, a lot of rumors have recently emerged, stating that we might be getting the second part. However, has an official source confirmed the speculations?
Is There A Spirited Away Season 2?
For the last few years, rumors about Spirited Away 2 has sparked hopes for its renewal. However, unfortunately, none of the official sources have confirmed the sequel. While there is some hope for its return, Studio Ghibli does not have any certain plans at the moment. Well, the studio isn’t particularly known for follow-ups. Almost all of its productions have been quite popular, critically acclaimed, and box-office grossers. Yet, neither of those films was ever greenlit for a second round. The list includes some famous names, Howl’s Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and several others.
Well, unlike many other studios and production companies, Studio Ghibli gives more importance to their credibility, even if it hurts their profits. The studio tends to respect their productions and resists making needless sequels. While the company has been praised for refusing to be cash cows, fans have been heartbroken for not getting to watch more of their favorite films. However, unlike what Studio Ghibli follows, the famous writer, director, animator, and artist Hayao Miyazaki is still interested in making sequels to hit masterpieces.
During the early-2010s, Miyazaki expressed that he wanted his next film to be a sequel to Ponyo. This suggests that the writer is interested in picking up his previous works again. Well, despite his wish to create the Ponyo sequel, the project was eventually dropped in exchange for the Kaze Tachinu adaptation. Hence, Miyazaki ended up writing and directing The Wind Rises, that released in July 2013. Yet, at least this ensures that there could be a Spirited Away sequel if Hayao Miyazaki wishes to continue the story.
Has Hayao Miyazaki Retired? Is Studio Ghibli No Longer Producing Feature Films?
Following the release of The Wind Rises in 2013, author-director Hayao Miyazaki shocked the world with the announcement of his retirement. The anime industry bid its farewell to the popular personality as many used social media platforms to praise him. Back in 2014, he received the Academy Honorary Award for his impact on cinema and animation. Ahead of his retirement, Studio Ghibli temporarily halted production. Toshio Suzuki, anime producer and former President of Studio Ghibli, confirmed that the studio would take a brief pause to restructure and re-evaluate their work.
This became an issue of controversy as the fans began to speculate that the studio would never make feature films anymore. Besides, a large chunk of Ghibli fans was disappointed that no new project by the studio came out for years. Fortunately, in 2016, to the surprise of fans, Studio Ghibli proudly announced that Hayao Miyazaki had come out of retirement and will be directing another feature film. Well, this raised several rumors about the Spirited Away sequel. However, it was later confirmed that the new project would be called “How Do You Live?” The new film is not the second part of Spirited Away.
Will Studio Ghibli Ever Produce Spirited Away 2?
The question arises again, will there be a Spirited Away sequel? Well, there sure are possibilities for it. Even though Studio Ghibli has not produced a follow-up film before, they might do it if Miyazaki wishes to. It is given that no other writer except the great Hayao Miyazaki can create the same world of Spirited Away again. Neither of the movie’s fans would want to get an underwhelming second part of the masterpiece.
Hence, Spirited Away 2 is only possible if Miyazaki decides to continue the story. The plot of the 2001 film is complete in itself and doesn’t necessarily require a sequel. However, viewers wish to see Chihiro and Haku keep their promise. If Miyazaki decides to make a follow-up movie, there is still a way to lead the story. However, we hope that the director goes on with this project, unlike what happened with the Ponyo sequel. Given that Hayao Miyazaki has come out of retirement now, he might pick up a new project post the release of How Do You Live?.
Miyazaki’s New Feature Film ‘How Do You Live?’
In 2016, Studio Ghibli executive Toshio Suzuki confirmed that Hayao Miyazaki is coming out of retirement for a new feature film. The title of the film will be ‘How Do You Live?’, also called Kimi-tachi wa Dō Ikiru ka. Reports say that it will be an adaptation of 1937’s acclaimed novel with the same name. Written by Yoshino Genzaburo, the novel follows a teenage boy as he deals with poverty, spiritual growth, and the overall experience as human beings.
The project was announced in 2016, and its production started a few months after the announcement. Since then, over 60 animators have been working on the movie. Miyazaki expressed in an interview with NHK, that his animation speed is reduced to 1 minute per month compared to the 10 minutes he used to animate when he was younger. Hence, even after three years of production, only 36 minutes of the film are ready.
Since the production of the film was delayed, the initial release date of Summer 2020 has been postponed. Suzuki previously projected the premiere to be sometime in 2021 or 2022. Miyazaki later mentioned that the movie is not to be expected anytime soon. The 80-year-old director will be dedicating the upcoming film to his grandson, as a gift from Grandpa.
What Will Be The Plot Of Spirited Away 2?
The plot of this heartwarming fantasy film centers around 10-year-old Chihiro, who stumbles upon a seemingly abandoned amusement park alongside her parents. Despite Chihiro being suspicious about the creepy-looking place, her mother and father decide to explore it. Eventually, her parents turn into giant pigs, and the abandoned place is full of demons, spirits, and evil gods. Upon meeting a young-mysterious boy Haku, Chihiro finds out that the park is actually a magical bathhouse for supernatural beings. Hence, she must work at the bathhouse and find a way to free herself and her parents from the dangerous world and its spells.
At the end of this beautiful movie, after much hardship, Chihiro is finally able to free herself and her parents from Yubaba and her spell. Before she leaves for the real world, Haku (who is actually the spirit of the Kohaku River) promises that they will meet again sometime in the future. Hence, fans are eager to know if the characters kept their promise. Well, if Studio Ghibli ever renews Spirited Away 2, it might feature the plot ahead of the first movie’s climax.
Hence, we will likely get to watch grown-up Chihiro in the Spirited Away sequel. The story might feature the character pay a revisit the crazy world she ran away from in the first film. One of the main highlights of the film will be Chihiro and Haku meeting after many years. However, given that Haku was the spirit of the Kohaku River, this reunion could actually be much more different and rhetorical than fans assumed. This time, Miyazaki could introduce us to a new world based in the Spirited Away universe other than what we already saw. As of now, neither of these can be assured until Studio Ghibli announces the official renewal of Spirited Away 2.
Cast Of The Spirited Away Sequel!
One of the most asked questions related to Spirited Away 2 is about its cast. Since it’s been 20 years since the film’s premiere, fans wonder whether the original Spirited Away cast will return. Well, given that there could be changes in the story, including the lead characters’ age, the actors might be changed. If Chihiro grows up in the sequel’s story, voice actresses Rumi Hiiragi (Japanese version) and Daveigh Chase (English version) might not return. Moreover, actors Miyu Irino (Japanese version) and Jason Marsden (English version), who played Haku, might be back. Yet, if the sequel could also bring in another actor to play a matured version of the character.
Well, Studio Ghibli might try to bring back most of the cast members this time as well. Almost all cast members of the original film, including the leads, were appreciated for their work and received awards for their contributions. Hence, it will be interesting to watch them play the fan-favorite characters again. On the other hand, it is expected that new actors will join the Spirited Away cast. Since the story will shift to the future of the first film’s events, a new set of characters could be introduced.
Short Films For Studio Ghibli Museum
Back in 2013, when Hayao Miyazaki announced his retirement, he expressed that he wished to continue working on Studio Ghibli Museum’s displays. Hence, during his retirement period, he developed a computer-animated short film called Boro the Caterpillar. The short movie premiered at the museum in March 2018 and received appreciation from viewers and critics alike. However, the film is only shown in the Ghibli Museum. It centers around the titular character Boro, a recently hatched caterpillar, as he takes his first steps into the world.
Spirited Away 2: Release Date
Neither Hayao Miyazaki nor Studio Ghibli has confirmed the renewal of the Spirited Away sequel. Given that Miyazaki has only come out of retirement for “How Do You Live?”, it is hard to say if he’ll continue making films after it. However, if he continues, his next project could likely be Spirited Away 2. Yet, the 80-year-old writer-director might not start the second film’s animation until he completes his current project. The expected release date for How Do You Live? is sometime in 2021 or 2022.
Hence, the production of Spirited Away 2 might only start after How Do You Live? premieres. Well, Miyazaki takes longer to animate films than before. Looking at the time How Do You Live? has taken, Spirited Away 2 may not hit the screens anytime before four to five years. Thus, as of now, a 2025-2026 release date is the earliest it could arrive. We will update this section once Miyazaki or Studio Ghibli greenlight the much-awaited sequel.
Do you want a sequel of Spirited Away 2? What were your favorite moments from the original movie? Please share with us in the comment section below.